Stop it Dave. No, really, stop it. Stop!

A final word for a chap called Dave. Plus some reassuring news for the people of a certain ward in t

Dear Marina

wha g’wan? DC here. Check it. You’re just the kind of bird I want in my party. You’re not old. You don’t wear twinsets and pearls but you do remind older colleagues of a young feisty Maggie. Let’s face it you’re wasted on old man Ming’s posse! Come on be a Green Con like me! Cross the floor and sex us up, you gorgeous filly.

Yours with the utmost respec’, Dave.

P.S. Word!

You turn if you want to: on Iraq, on ID cards, raising standards in education and the rest. But this lady is not for turning.

Sorry Dave – Trident hugger - I’d rather have my nipples crushed in a mangle.

Given your media friendly claims of a U-turn on traditional nasty Tory values, and your apparent repentance at constantly propping up the Labour vote, how about coming over to us. We’re waiting for you here

But please, don’t bring your councillors with you. It’s just too ghastly to contemplate.

Dear Marina

I had a phone call the other day from a lady asking me to vote Tory. Obviously I told her I was voting for you. I mean, how many men my age get to vote for a rising political star with lovely eyes and great baps to boot?

She advised me you were being parachuted into a safe seat. Newhaven she said, owing to local support for your anti-incinerator campaign.

Notwithstanding my concern at you taking up sky diving, I’m gutted you could even contemplate abandoning your community.

We love you Marina

George, East Saltdean near Brighton.
PS: Thank you for sorting my recycling!

George. Thank you for your getting in touch. Rest assured sir, with my record of action and promise of more I WILL stand for re-election in my community of East Saltdean and Telscombe on May 3rd.

This scurrilous rumour appears to be a dirty trick aimed at destroying my hard earned personal vote – and the well deserved local LibDem vote. We’re a strong team.

George, we’re fighting for our political lives against a bunch of no mark Cons. Every vote counts on 3rd May. All offers of help and pledges for the fighting fund to Vote Pepper

The revolution is on George
PS: Need a postal vote or a lift to the polling station?

Dear Marina

Firstly my apologies. You were right. Grabbing your bottom like that was no way to behave since you were meeting me in your capacity as Mayor. Thank you for dealing with my local issue with such manners and grace. I deserved a face slap.

To the point. The Tories have just been round trying to press gang me to stand in the locals.

I told them, Marina, I said there’s no way I’d stand against you. I mean who wants to work that hard? And for what? Just to get hassled by old ladies smelling of wee, moaning about the state of the pavements whenever I pop out to the local shop for 20 Marlborough and a packet of king sized Rizlas. Why don’t they just drive like normal people?

Anyway. They said you weren’t standing here. I’m appalled. It’s not because I grabbed your bum is it?

Name and address supplied

Thank you for getting in touch. I WILL stand for re-election on 3rd May in East Saltdean and Telscombe. To request a postal vote, donate money, or pledge support here

I neither smoke Marlborough nor experience similar encounters when using my local shops for all my supplies (bar the vegetables - my home is the local organic veg box drop off for East Saltdean and Telscombe).

I do however accept that the pavements in our ward are an atrocious mess. I know this because all sorts of people have told me. And I listen. I’ve twisted my ankle, too, while out delivering Focus leaflets.

But crazy pavements, like pot-holed roads and the Newhaven incinerator are the responsibility of East Sussex County Council. Controlled by the Tories, of course.

If you want my advice about standing dwell on this: it’s a two horse race on May 3rd. Only the Liberal Democrats can beat the Tories. You might win by one vote. Don’t risk it.

Marina Pepper is a former glamour model turned journalist, author, eco-campaigner and Lib Dem politician. A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate, she lives near Brighton with her two children.
Why not e-mail your problems to
Photo: Getty Images
Show Hide image

The future of policing is still at risk even after George Osborne's U-Turn

The police have avoided the worst, but crime is changing and they cannot stand still. 

We will have to wait for the unofficial briefings and the ministerial memoirs to understand what role the tragic events in Paris had on the Chancellor’s decision to sustain the police budget in cash terms and increase it overall by the end of the parliament.  Higher projected tax revenues gave the Chancellor a surprising degree of fiscal flexibility, but the atrocities in Paris certainly pushed questions of policing and security to the top of the political agenda. For a police service expecting anything from a 20 to a 30 per cent cut in funding, fears reinforced by the apparent hard line the Chancellor took over the weekend, this reprieve is an almighty relief.  

So, what was announced?  The overall police budget will be protected in real terms (£900 million more in cash terms) up to 2019/20 with the following important caveats.  First, central government grant to forces will be reduced in cash terms by 2019/20, but forces will be able to bid into a new transformation fund designed to finance moves such as greater collaboration between forces.  In other words there is a cash frozen budget (given important assumptions about council tax) eaten away by inflation and therefore requiring further efficiencies and service redesign.

Second, the flat cash budget for forces assumes increases in the police element of the council tax. Here, there is an interesting new flexibility for Police and Crime Commissioners.  One interpretation is that instead of precept increases being capped at 2%, they will be capped at £12 million, although we need further detail to be certain.  This may mean that forces which currently raise relatively small cash amounts from their precept will be able to raise considerably more if Police and Crime Commissioners have the courage to put up taxes.  

With those caveats, however, this is clearly a much better deal for policing than most commentators (myself included) predicted.  There will be less pressure to reduce officer numbers. Neighbourhood policing, previously under real threat, is likely to remain an important component of the policing model in England and Wales.  This is good news.

However, the police service should not use this financial reprieve as an excuse to duck important reforms.  The reforms that the police have already planned should continue, with any savings reinvested in an improved and more effective service.

It would be a retrograde step for candidates in the 2016 PCC elections to start pledging (as I am certain many will) to ‘protect officer numbers’.  We still need to rebalance the police workforce.   We need more staff with the kind of digital skills required to tackle cybercrime.  We need more crime analysts to help deploy police resources more effectively.  Blanket commitments to maintain officer numbers will get in the way of important reforms.

The argument for inter-force collaboration and, indeed, force mergers does not go away. The new top sliced transformation fund is designed in part to facilitate collaboration, but the fact remains that a 43 force structure no longer makes sense in operational or financial terms.

The police still have to adapt to a changing world. Falling levels of traditional crime and the explosion in online crime, particularly fraud and hacking, means we need an entirely different kind of police service.  Many of the pressures the police experience from non-crime demand will not go away. Big cuts to local government funding and the wider criminal justice system mean we need to reorganise the public service frontline to deal with problems such as high reoffending rates, child safeguarding and rising levels of mental illness.

Before yesterday I thought policing faced an existential moment and I stand by that. While the service has now secured significant financial breathing space, it still needs to adapt to an increasingly complex world. 

Rick Muir is director of the Police Foundation